August 7, 2019
The Ride Connected series tells stories of everyday riders connecting and sharing their passion for motorcycle riding. Today’s story introduces us to a veteran who participates in a cross country trip as part of a touring run that honors the sacrifices of their brethren.
Bruce Bartolomeo is an Air Force veteran who served his country in the years after the Vietnam War. Serving his country for six years, Bruce is honored to have been part of America’s defense. But he also noted something that still lingers to this day: the Vietnam War was not a particularly popular war with the American populace. Veterans of that war were not particularly welcomed home back in the day.
At the same time, a group of veterans wanted to honor those men and women who served alongside them in the Vietnam War. Run for the Wall was started in honor of their fellow soldiers who went missing in action in the Vietnam War. “Welcome Home” became the tagline because some MIA would never hear those words. It also served as acceptance for returning vets, as a way to affirm their efforts and sacrifice.
For the past 5 years, Bruce has taken part in Run for the Wall. The ride starts in Ontario, CA and it makes its way east towards Washington D.C. There are three branches that riders can select, each with their group. Over 2000 riders make the journey to Washington D.C. from across the country.
Bruce is a platoon leader for the central route and he keeps in touch with his group with the 10C Pro. He places importance in being able to communicate with his platoon, as it keeps them aware of the highway…and makes for some great banter on the open trails. It also allows him the opportunity to record his adventure to share with those who don’t ride.
One thing that Bruce appreciates on the yearly journey is the amount of support the ride receives from the cities and towns the platoons pass. Streets are lined with both young children and veterans alike as the cheers punctuate the air. Overpasses are filled with onlookers who wave and holler their support. Bands play festive music and street vendors offer delicious foods for the motorcyclists. The spectacle reminds Bruce that people truly do care about the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line no matter where they served.
Once at the nation’s capital, special honor is afforded to the first 600 new riders participating in Run for the Wall. This group is led by platoon leaders through Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of the men and women who served their country in times of war. For Bruce, this part of the trip is particularly meaningful, as it reminds him of the ultimate sacrifice those people made. He feels a cut into his being, remembering that those buried were people just like him in many ways. As he puts it, “A cut is a pretty small price to pay for the freedom we have.”
Bruce sees himself participating in Run for the Wall for as long as he can ride. He wants to keep honoring those who are seemingly forgotten or underappreciated. He offers the following advice for those who wish to take part: “Don’t come with any expectations...you don’t have to be a motorcycle rider, but you will absolutely be changed.”